Monday, December 27, 2004

Semi-Final Guest List

Here's the guest list as of Mon, 27 Dec. 2004:

Roger Widdison (Confirmed)
Eric Widdison (Confirmed)
Gary Walker (Confirmed)
Leon Walker (Confirmed)
Andrew Walker (Confirmed)
Jake Wilcox (Confirmed)
Jeff Wilcox (Confirmed)
Krys Johnson (Confirmed)
Joe Oskiersky (Maybe)
Boyd and David Wheeler (Confirmed)
Sian Dagostino (Confirmed)
Becca Betts (Confirmed)

Once again...Bring your own PC, Monitor, Keyboard, SURGE PROTECTOR (Required), and Headphones. SPEAKERS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. If you want to hear your game, you'll need headphones.

The directions to the party are here.

The party will begin whenever you show up after noon. You may show up before noon if you please, but you'll be helping set up if you do.

The food will arrive sometime between five and six.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Deck the Halls and Blow People Up, fa la la...

Well, it's well and truly the Christmas season, once again. This is going to be an interesting one, too. I've definitely got the "Christmas spirit" mindset, but I'm not sure I'm really feeling it. Maybe it's just cause I'm a nice guy all year, with my cliche keeping Christmas all year long.

At this point I would like to make it clear that I am not in a particularly bad mood, nor am I turning into the Grinch. Just having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit is all. I do love Christmas and fully respect the people and religions which choose not to.

Changing gears slightly, this year, I can safely say that I'm giving better gifts than ever to date. Admittedly, I am sharing the credit for Mom and Dad's gifts, but I made sure I got everyone something they want. Giving is something I can really get behind. It makes me feel good. And when I feel good, I make those around me feel good. (Or is it the other way around? hmm....) Anyway, Karma, baby, Karma.

I recently had my foot worked on, and by order of the doctor, I have to "restrict movement" for a few days. In other words, I get to catch up on my gaming. Almost makes me wish I hadn't finished HL2. But, I have a new game to play with. Those of you who have never played Kingdom Hearts, give it a shot. It has come highly recomended, and I'm enjoying it so far. But first, play HL2.

On the subject of games in general, I have been hearing about problems with games expected to be played at the LAN party. These include HL (not source) not working while you've got HL2 installed and the Motocross codec (refer to his post earlier). Strange part is, I don't have these problems. I don't know if I should be proud or wierded out, because it seems like everyone else has them.

Well, now I'm starting to ramble, so everyone have a merry Christmas, a happy new year, and always give freely of your own heart.

One Important LAN Party Detail at the End, and Some Other Junk

I, once again, am on speed.
I have a new ADD doctor, and he wants to try yet another amphetamine. And that's why I was up reading until 3:30 this morning, and then only slept until 7:00. Fortunately, not only do you not sleep when you're on speed, you also don't feel like you need to sleep, so it all works out.
Oh yeah, and this is special extended release speed. So I feel weird all day, not just for a few hours after the initial dose. I just hope that this one doesn't depress me.
If you've tried to play Motocross Madness 2 lately, you may find that it won't run. That's because you're missing the Indeo codec, which Microsoft bombed in all versions of WinXP since SP1. Stupidly, you only need the codec to run the demo at the beginning of the game, but if you can't run the demo, you can't play either. Stupidly.
Indeo used to belong to was their in-house video format (Intel+Video=Indeo), but they figured they didn't need it anymore and sold the IP rights to a band of highwaymen known as Ligos.
Ligos wants $15 a pop from Windows XP users for the codec. For a damned codec that you probably won't use except to run the demo for MCM2, in which case you'll probably press Esc so that you don't have to watch it again, they want $15.
Fortunately, we live in the Internet Age, wherein most things, if not all, are possible. In this case, we're going to download and install a version of the Indeo Codec that predates Ligos going all corporate greedy, yet still works fine in Windows XP. See?
(Take that, Ligos. Bastards.)
You know what? Speed makes me feisty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Directions to the LAN Party, Phone Numbers, other Info.

The time is drawing near. We now have at least ten confirmed attendees and there will probably be more. This means that Leon and I need to order more food than we originally planned, but we can afford it, because more people will be paying the cover.
Once again, we are having Garcia's brought in. Yum. The cover charge is $10. Plan on it.
Please bring a network switch if you have a spare one. Leon has an old 10 MB/sec 24 port hub, but we'd rather not drag that thing out if we don't have to, and we're not even sure that it works.
Here is Leon's address in Kaysville:
350 N. Seemore Drive
Directions: From I-15, take the Kaysville exit. Coming off of the exit, turn West onto 200 North. If you're coming from the South, that's a left turn. If you're coming from the North, it's a right turn.
You should pass a car dealership right by the freeway as you head West.
Further down on the right, you'll see a nice park. This means you're going the right way. There's another park right next to the first one that has a sign blocking the parking lot that says the park is closed for winter. Keep heading West.
You'll see an LDS church on the left. Then you'll see a Baptist church across the street from the LDS church, also on your left. Keep heading West.
Fields. There are fields on the left and right, but mostly on the right. **CORRECTION** The train tracks are no longer there. Just take the first right-hand turn AFTER the churches.
Take the next right. It's called Seemore Drive. This is Leon's street. He lives at the very end of the street, on the right-hand side. There is parking in front and at the side of the house.
Here's an aerial photo of Leon's neighborhood. Seemore Drive is the road that ends in a "T", not the one that has a cul-de-sac. His house is the one on the right-hand corner next to the cul-de-sac. Yeah, the one with the huge back yard.
If you have any problems, questions or other concerns about the party, you can email me at ohbejake (at) earthlink (dot) net, or you can call my cellular phone at nine four oh, fifteen oh six. Got that? If you don't know the area code, go away.
Agent double oh nothin', out! (This message will self destruct. Well, not so much self destruct, more self deflate, like a two-week-old balloon that your kid got at some cheesy restaurant before you could stop the zitty minimum wage employee from handing it to him. And then you drive home with the damned balloon in the rear view mirror the whole way, and when it's not blocking your view, it's hitting you in the back of the head. Two weeks later, you find it wrinkled and sickly under a bed, and so you mercifully whip your knife out of your back pocket and put it out of its misery. And that's how this message will self destruct. In about two weeks.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yet Another New Year's LAN Party Update

Here's what the (potential) guest list looks like:

!! UPDATED 21 Dec. 2004 !!

Roger Widdison (Confirmed)
Eric Widdison (Confirmed)
Gary Walker (Confirmed)
Leon Walker (Confirmed)
Andrew Walker (Confirmed)
Jake Wilcox (Confirmed)
Jeff Wilcox (Confirmed)
Stan Wilcox (Maybe)
Krys Johnson (Confirmed)
Joe Oskiersky (Maybe)
Boyd Wheeler (Probably)
David Wheeler (Maybe)
Sian Dagostino (Confirmed)
Becca Betts (Confirmed)

I've read through Eric's list of HL mod maps and we may use some of them. More later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Prognosis Negative

I'm with Jake right now, and we're done troubleshooting the troublesome system. We concur that the motherboard is fried. Looking on the retailer's website, I can't find it, so I may be screwed. I did find a great deal on an ASUS board, which I will likely be much happier with. I need to talk to Zip Zoom Fly RMA tomorrow, and this whole build thing will have to start over again in a week or so.

Happy Hannukuh.

Updated LAN Party Planning

The guest list in particular needs updating.
Oh, and my apologies to Jeff. He didn't load the wrong driver on Mom's system...he didn't even touch it. I was the installer for the print server on that machine, and it turns out I did it right. I fiddled with it and it suddenly started working. Sorry again, Jeff. Thanks for all your help. haven't reminded me to tell you about keeping a MAC address database. Believe me, you want to do this, and I'll tell you why. Later.
Here's the updated guest list:
Roger Widdison (Eric's little brother)
Eric Widdison
Gary Walker
Leon Walker
Andrew Walker
Jake Wilcox
Jeff Wilcox
Stan Wilcox (Bit of a pattern developing, no?)
Krys Johnson
Dan Carver
Joe Oskiersky (The HTML barfed last time I tried to spell his name right.)
Lowell Layton (Crystal's Brother)
Sian Dagostino (A Woman! (pronounced "See-Ahn"))
Becca Betts (Sian's friend, probably won't be playing.)
Roger, Dan, Andrew, Gary, Stan, Krys, Joe, and Lowell all need contacting and RSVP'ing.
I can get Krys, Joe, and Lowell. Leon and Eric, can you guys get the rest?
So far, we've had about two votes for Subway, and three for Garcia's. One of the votes for Garcia's is cast by the host, and so it looks like Garcia's is definitely in the lead. I'll visit them today and see what they can do for us. They may not even operate on New Year's Day.
Don't forget, folks...there WILL be a cover charge. So if you're calling someone to let them know about the party, don't forget that part. We don't know how much yet, but I'd like to keep it under $10 and I definitely can't see going higher than $15. Leon and I will get solid numbers as soon as we can.
Once again, the games menu will be 1.) Microsoft Motocross Madness 2, and 2.) Half-Life 1 Multiplayer Death Match.
MCM2 is long out of production and can be had from Froogle for $10 and sometimes less. I saw some on Ebay for as little as $5. If you don't have Half-Life by now, shame on you.
I strongly advise that you come to the party with at least game control skills. If you don't know where the "jump" button is, we'll be happy to help, but you really ought to have that down before you arrive. That sort of problem makes for a frustrating experience.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Build Update

This weekend, I tackled my third attempt to build a computer from scratch, my first time working solo. Things did not go well. The following is from a pair of emails I sent to Jake to recap my struggles.

Here's the story:

I put the computer together without any problems hardware-wise, except for that time I had to reseat the processor. When I came to installing Win2K, it went through the setup normally until the first reboot, at which point it got to the flash screen and stopped. Suspecting a video problem, I tried it with three different video cards (a basic PCI card, a 64 MB PCI Radeon, and the AGP Jetway card I got from you), with the same results every time. I tried both of the 64 MB cards in my main system, and both worked normally (although the PCI card was predictably much slower).

Installing Windows XP (Home or Pro) also runs normally during the first stage of install, but after the first reboot, both go to a black screen and stop. The system can boot to Win98SE, but why bother? When booting from a Knoppix disc, it uncompresses the OS and prints a message that it is ttarting the kernel, at which point it stops.

Quicktech 2000 (from the SDB disc) runs on the system if it is cold (it freezes before offereing a burn-in when the system is warmed up), and it finds no errors in its automated tests. It does hit problems when checking video modes. With one video card (the AGP one), it failed to load two VGA modes, and with the PCI Radeon card, it failed to load the text-only VESA modes. This doesn't seem relevant to the issue, since different modes are available with different cards, but the behavior of the system has been independent of the card.

The power supply voltages are all close to +/- 3.3, 5, or 12 V except for one wire that has nearly 13 V, but that should still be in tolerance. I've reset the BIOS settings with no success (the BIOS is really complicated). I've used two hard drives, including a brand new 200 GB drive. The 40 GB drive has passed all of the Quicktech tests, even after several passes.

The board is a brand new Chaintech Summit board. It has all the usual stuff (IDE, 5 PCI, AGP, ect), plus onboard LAN, 8 USB, SATA, and onboard audio. I don't think the problem is hard drive related because nothing has identified a problem with a hard drive specifically, and because Knoppix won't boot (it runs from CD, independent of hard drives). I haven't had the 200 GB drive plugged in except for one time when I was checking to see if the 40 GB drive (which is older) was at fault. It didn't make any difference.

The processor is an AMD Athlon XP 2700+. The 200 GB drive is a WD, and the 40 GB drive is a Maxtor (it predates my realization that they suck, but you work with what you have). The power supply is a 450 W supply, but it's probably a really cheap brand.

It just occurred to me that if I billed my time at the same hourly rate I get at work, this project is nearing the point where the labor exceeds the parts.

I’m very frustrated at this whole thing. I got past the hardware build, which is where I am relatively inexperienced, and now I’m stuck at the OS installation, which I’ve done dozens of times.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Planetary "Um"

I need to write...right now, if only for a lack of anything better to do. Since I quit this semester, I don't even have homework to do, or not to do and to inspire me to find something more interesting to do.
Even if I did, this would probably end up being that more interesting thing anyway.
I think Jeff loaded the wrong driver on my Mom's computer when he installed the networked printer for her. When she tries to print, it prints several thousand copies of gibberish. Can we be more careful next time, Jeff? I'm going to have to fix this now.
I went on a tour with WEA yesterday to Petersen Manufacturing Inc. in Farr West. It was fascinating.
One thing that struck me is that Steve Petersen knows every little facet of his business. He knows how every part is manufactured, he knows where every part is going, what it will be used for, and he calls his 430 or so employees each by name.
I asked him how much of his day was spent walking the floors of his factories, and his answer explained a lot of how he knows everything about everything. He said that 30% of his day is spent walking the floors, and that's not as much as he'd like. So that's quite a bit.
I've heard the term "management by walking around" before, and I believe in it. Yesterday's tour only reinforced that belief.
I want my business. I really do. I want a job where I enjoy going in every day, and it's a sacrifice to call in sick. And I have no interest whatsoever in writing a resume ever again. It seems to a certain degree that going somewhere and asking for a job is a form of begging.
There's a weakness in not being able to find your own value to society and creating the job that you need. I'm afraid of my own employment philosophy. God, what if I'm right? Scary stuff, and a sad commentary on American society's ugly streak of unemployment.
The other night Crystal and Julianne and I took the kids to Salt Lake to see the lights and a star show. Star shows aren't what they used to be, and neither is the planetarium, so we ended up seeing an IMAX 3D show called "Snowman Vs. Santa Claus." The 3D stuff scared the kids a couple of times right at the start, and it was hard to get them to keep their 3D glasses on. And then the show was only 30 minutes long...not worth the $8 per adult and $5 per child that we paid.
We had hot chocolate after the show, and then we drove around Temple Square to get a peek at lights. Rachel fell asleep in the car on the way home. I reminisced about falling asleep in the car and waking up to my Dad picking me up and carrying me to bed. I must have been five or six years old the last time that happened. It was about that time, too, that I was getting too big for my Dad to flip me on my bed. He hurt himself doing that once, and he didn't take the chance again.
I miss the Hansen Planetarium. It was in a grand old stone three story building that had creaky stairs and wrought iron banisters in it. There was an old phone booth in the lobby that belonged in some kind of period movie where Marty McFly has to make an emergency phone call to "Doc."
They also had an ultra-cool plasma sphere on the main floor that was a good three feet or so in diameter. Big damn thing. And if you stood up on its pedestal and touched it and then touched your friend who wasn't on the pedestal, you could give him a wicked zap.
Sure, the Clark Planetarium is a cool place, and I'll take my kids there, but it's not the neat old place that I learned about stars in. Kids need to know this stuff.
Well, I don't know what I'll do for the next four hours, other than sit in front of this computer. Looks like it's going to be a long shift. But my writing is rambling.

When it rains…

It started when I went to visit Jake last month. We looked at my motherboard, and realized that it was having some problems. The chipset fan was not running, and so he (hot)swapped it with one he had on hand. He also noticed a number of capacitors that were blown. While I’ve been fond of this motherboard, I haven’t been overly impressed with it, and so I figure it’s a good time to just replace it. I would have done so already, but I am under strict instruction to not mess around with the computer until my wife is done with school for the semester, which is still a week away.

Monday morning, amid frigid temperatures, I went out to start my car and clean the windows. By the time I was able to see out, the car had stopped, and wouldn’t start again. I tried for a while, and then went in for a bit. I finally got it started half an hour after I first went out. It ran all day, and the next. Wednesday, I took my wife’s car, which starts fine, and Thursday I tried my car again. It wouldn’t start, except that this time it was much warmer. We tried several times during the day, and finally it got towed to a shop.

I just got the diagnosis. One of the cylinders is going out. Their recommendation was to take it home and try to help it be comfortable until the time came. In retrospect, it sounds like the spark plugs were bad, and so now that they’ve fixed those, the car should be fine for the foreseeable future, although it is still dying. It’s had problems ever since I got it 6 years ago, and until this week, it’s been running better than it did right after I got it.<>

<>What this visit to the shop does is it gives me some impetus to replace the car before I have to go through another summer in that unconditioned greenhouse. I guess it is time for a new car. And a new motherboard. Oh, and a new house. Except that I may put that one off for a while, unless our apartment floods.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Right Now I Feel The Best I've Felt All Day

Which is really sad. Really. Sad.

I walked out of my WEA leadership meeting this morning, because I just couldn't stand the thought of being there anymore. And the meeting wasn't bad...I was. So I left.

The week is off to an ominous start, but tomorrow I'm going to sushi with Leon, and I've found sushi with Leon to be at least as effective at helping with my attitude as therapy was all those years ago.


This weekend, Leon and I exchanged Christmas gifts...he got the Radeon 9600SE that I bought him, and I got the 250GB SATA hard drive he bought me. As I was handing him things to take home, he took the hard drives and the vid card, thinking he could pull a slick one.

Then I helped him realize that if I had to wait for Christmas, so did he. Suddenly there was a new hard drive in my hands.

We took an hour or so installing the drive in the server...the server won't boot unless you have the BIOS settings for the SATA drives just so...then Leon went home and I spent until 2:00 am moving partitions around until I had things the way I wanted them. The new Video Drive is an impressive 232GB all by its little self, after formatting. It'll take some work to fill it up.

Leon installed HL2 today, and I expect I won't hear much from him after sushi tomorrow and before he's done getting through HL2 by himself in hard mode.

I managed to get the new wireless access point that's built into my DSL modem running this weekend. I had tried to get it going a couple of times before, but this time I finally figured out that it called what I was doing on my other AP a "pre-shared key", or PSK. That could have been a little more intuitive. But it's running now, and that's good.

Here's something interesting: Leon and I both run 128-bit WEP encryption. But my key is 13 digits and his is 26 digits. I think we had a little hex vs. binary snafu. That'll have to be worked out later.

Oh, Leon? Remind me to tell you the advantages of creating and storing a database of the wireless MAC addresses that you authorize on your network. Mkay?

Finally, I tried and tried to get my WinServ2k3 machine to serve FTP this weekend. It is not intuitive, and it still doesn't work. Maybe I'll just install the FileZilla server and call it good. But I've got such a nice, shiny OS, I'd really rather use the built-in FTP server. If it continues to be a pain in the ass...well, nevermind. It already has been one, so I'm going to FileZilla. is a nice little piece of work. I had a student in the lab crying a couple of weeks ago because her PowerPoint file had been corrupted and wouldn't open anymore.

I suspected that OpenOffice would fix it, but I didn't have a copy handy, and I didn't have time to download it and try it at the time.

I did hang on to a copy of the file, though, and the other day I tried it. Sure enough, where PowerPoint barfs, OpenOffice runs like a champ. If you save the file in OpenOffice and then re-open it in PowerPoint, it works perfectly.

Scoble? Are you listening? Your PPT guys need to hear about this. $550 software suites are supposed to work better than the free ones, not worse.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like a LAN party

Is this party for New Year's day? I'm in.

I can bring a switch, and I may be able to get another player into the game. My little brother proved himself to be a worthy opponent at Half-Life.

As for catering, I like Subway. I know some Subway people and can talk to them.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, December 03, 2004

LAN Party Details Briefing (Stand by for De-Briefing)

I'm working at the Davis Lab and Leon is sitting here. I think it's a good time to hash out some details for the party.
Here's the list of invitees so far:
Andrew (?)
Dan Carver (?)
Jörg (Known as "Joe" to you American types)
Lowell (Crystal's older brother)
It's at Leon's place, in the basement and library. The food will be upstairs, but you can bring it down and eat in front of your own computer if you choose. We have a reasonable player limit of twelve.
Leon and I will set up camp in Leon's room, for which I'll bring a wired router so that I'll have a place to plug in. If someone (Eric, I'm looking in your direction) could bring another switch or two, then that would be great.
Now, regarding food...
We need to arrange catering. Leon and I are planning this thing, and we're open to input. But we're not bringing in Baja Fresh again, dammit.
So, here are some local places that cater. Please give us feedback on your preference:
Tasty's (High probability)
Togos (Sandwiches)
Garcia's (Excellent Mexican)
Panda Express
Overall, Leon and I lean toward Garcia's, Tasty's, or Quizno's. Any of those would be fine, and if I talk to a manager, we can probably be assured of the food arriving on time.
We also need to get some variety. So we're going to play some Motocross Madness 2 before dinner and Half-Life. We figure it'll be a good warm-up game. This is not set in stone. Whatever the group, or even factions thereof, want to do is fine. We're all there to have fun.
Everything here is subject to change. Leon wanted me to throw that in, just in case. OK? Ok.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

WEA Blog Update

WEA Leadership Members-
As you know, WEA now has a weblog. The link to the blog is: The weblog's purpose is to enable all of us to have written communication that is widely available to the entire group and to document our progress. An added benefit is that by reading each other's posts, we'll get to know each other better.
Soon each of you will be sent an invitation email to join the weblog. All you have to do to join the weblog (or "blog") is click the link in the invitation email and then enter in a few details about yourself on the web page that will open up. That's it. You're a member. Please click the invite link and become a member as soon as you receive the invite email...the link will expire after a few days.
There are a couple of tools on the weblog that can make using it easier to use. First, you don't have to log on to Blogger ( in order to post. You can go into your account settings once you join and create an email address that you can simply send your posts to, and they'll automatically be published to the blog.
Second, you don't have to check the blog all the time for new can have them automatically emailed to you if you choose. This is also done through your Blogger account settings when you're logged on.
Finally, if you use an RSS aggregator to gather your online reading materials, you can find an RSS feed link in the Blogger settings also.
To those of you shaking your heads and still not seeing the, well, you'll just have to trust me. But the following links may or may not help, if you've got a minute to glance at a couple.
1. How To Blog, from I agree with some of this, and some of it is bunk. Your mileage will vary.
2. Defective Yeti. His kid is cute (check out this post!), and if you don't laugh, you're made of stone.
3. BoingBoing. The Grand Dame of weblogs. BoingBoing is very hard to explain. But go ahead and see how it strikes you.
4. Obscure Store and Reading Room. Sort of a clearinghouse for all those man-bites-dog type stories that are becoming so common. When you see something unusual on CNN, odds are these guys had it a few days earlier.
5. 5ives. Guy has random thoughts in groups of five. Guy posts them online. Here's an example: 
  1. Mr. Bob Dobalina
  2. Thorstenson Finlandson
  3. Rrrrrrrrrroberto!
  4. Bubb Rubb
  5. Dr. Julius Kelp
6. Scobleizer. Robert Scoble is a Microsoft employee who writes about working at Microsoft. He uses his blog to communicate with other MSFT employees, talk about projects he's working on there, and clearly states what he feels Microsoft does right and wrong. This is sort of where I envision the WEA blog going, but with more people.
So that's about it. Watch for your invites, and don't hesitate to email me with questions...or better yet, post them to the blog!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Let's not argue about who killed whom.

This week, my brother is visiting from DC, where he has been going to school. We were very excited to get together, because since we last saw each other this summer, both he and my older brother got new computers that are now capable of playing decent games. So, we planned, and when the time came, he snuck away from his wife and her family, and we played some Half-life.

There were a lot of concerns about this, because I’m an experienced player, and they’re all more or less complete novices. My DC brother got the game about a few weeks ago and played through the entire single player game in a surprisingly short amount of time. My youngest brother joined one of the LAN parties with my friends at this forum, but didn’t stay long or do very well. He’s an unbeatable Halo player, and we were doing well to get him away from Halo 2, which he just got recently. My older brother is very new to the entire multiplayer FPS experience, except for occasional games of Halo, which isn’t the same.

So, to counter my experience, I went out looking for new maps, so that I would have to learn all of the maps instead of having intimate, practiced knowledge of their layout. My early efforts at finding maps were disappointing. I found a couple of maps that their author was very proud of, but it turned out that they had very limited weapons, and they were extremely difficult to move around in. They were the sort of maps that a couple of players could easily control against an arbitrary number of opponents. Then I found The Snark Pit. It’s a forum for map developers, and they turn out some great work. I downloaded a lot of maps, and they clearly show the improvements that come from peer review. They are beautiful maps to be in (especially one that with snowfall, giving it an idyllic peaceful feel), and most of them give great game play.

So, Thursday (Thanksgiving) night, we got together and spent about 4 or 5 hours straight blasting each other away through half a dozen maps. They made some good progress in their skills, and so I think that at least two of them (the younger brothers) could hold their own in the Phischkneght LAN parties. We gave up because we were getting tired and our reaction times were dwindling. The peak of the evening was when we were playing on a small map (the Snark Pit review said it was only good for two players) that was just a small open arena. I had a tendency to get the long jump module and jump all over the place, leading my brothers to dub me “Spider Man”. We had a frenzied bloodbath. It got too intense for us, and we had to finish up with a peaceful round of Crossfire.

We managed to get together again Friday night, and we soon decided that the only map we wanted to play on was this arena map. We spent about an hour and a half there. It was insane. My youngest brother and I were neck and neck the whole time (he was usually ahead by 5-15 kills until near the end when I took the lead), and the other brothers had about 2/3 our scores. At the end, the two higher scores were over 300, and the lower scores were over 200. I had the most kills by a small margin, and also the fewest deaths by a much larger margin. In all, there were over 1000 kills during that time, meaning that the average life span was less than 30 seconds. It was the best round I have ever had, with bullets, rockets, and trash talk flying freely. About an hour after the game ended, I had finally calmed down enough that I wasn’t shaking. I think I’ve still got some adrenaline pumping from it.

Anyway, I need to play again. The next time we have a LAN party together, I have about 60 MB of maps for us to try out. We may find a few new favorites. Plus, the less we play Subtransit, the better.

[Edited to correct the size of my maps file from 60 GB to 60 MB. Give me a break. I was writing at 2 a.m.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Only there to help

Well, I had a frustrating drive home.

I had just dropped off Andy (being the nice guy I am) and got on I-15. About a mile from my exit, my tire went flat. Ok, no problem. This is why I have a cell phone, right? RIGHT? Well, I tried to call home and I got a message telling me that I needed to make a payment before I make a call. So, I get ahold of a rep who needs the SSN of the person whose name is on the account. For those of you wondering, no, I don't know my dad's number and I don't have any burning desire to know. Thankfully, police officers Campbell and Ricks pulled up and called Julianne. Even nicer was that they called a guy with a jack to come and put the spare on the car, seeing as how we never put a jack in the Jetta.

So my thanks to the police officers of the world, putting themselves on the line to make the world a better place for us. Even if we occasionally forget that.

May your tires never go flat


One More Round

I was not expecting this round but sushi is never unwanted or unwelcome.

This round we had a Vegas roll, a BSCR roll, a Diva roll, and a Utah roll. Since I have rated two of these already you will have to read the other post to catch their rating. The new ones this round were the Utah Roll and the Diva Roll.

  • Utah Roll – I really enjoyed this one once I figured out that it was best with a little wasabi a little soy sauce and a slice of ginger. The best way to describe this roll is understated. Jake may say this is a little low but I’ll give it an 8.
  • Diva Roll – This roll originally comes with macadamia nuts but I HATE nuts so I ordered it without. It also has soy paper as the wrap instead of the seaweed witch had a pleasant pink color to it. Considering the nut problem I give it an 8.

Well hopefully I can do my network upgrade next but that will have to wait until my next post.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Stardate 24601

I know, what a cheesy title, right? Sorry. (I was going to go with "Come see the harder side of K-Mart", but I don't think that many people would get it. It's a Wall Street joke. But then, I guess a classic literary/Star Trek reference is pretty esoteric, too. But far more geeky.)

Did I forget to write here that I had bulging capacitors on my Intel motherboard? 'Tis true.

Intel arranged a replacement with me and said replacement is currently on a UPS truck that should stop at my house today. Sometimes they can't find my house, which pisses me off, but there's nothing I can do about it, so I'll just breathe deeply instead.

Leon and I went for sushi again yesterday. I called him in the morning, inviting him to lunch, and starved myself until lunch so I'd have room for the forthcoming sushi.

Problem is, my sugar dropped and Leon got off work late, so I was starving. I ordered a bowl of edamame when we got there, and wolfed it down when the girl brought it to the table. It was good.

I had a BSCR and a Vegas roll (that took 45 minutes to get to the table). They were both quite good. Leon tried two rolls he hadn't had before, the Utah and the Diva I think, and he's going to review those on this very blog.

The sushi was excellent, as was the service other than the late food. The waitress offered us free desserts to make up for the late food and we gratefully accepted. I had a dessert called the Mt. Fuji that was like a super-rich cakey brownie with dollops of whipped cream and some vanilla ice cream. It was very good.

I paid $60 for the meal, $13.xx of which was the tip. We were well served.

I found a copy of Half Life 2 Collector's Edition at my local Wal*Mart yesterday. I was surprised to see it there, two days after Half Life's big release date.

So the story goes like this: I have Half Life 2. I have a processor, video card, memory and other system internals that surpass by a fair bit what it'll take to run the demanding game. What I don't have is my motherboard. Dammit, Intel.

Oh, and get this...the guy at Intel tried to tell me that he rarely if ever hears of the caps going bad on Intel boards. Must be a new hire, because this bad cap epidemic is bigger than pokemon (like, so yesterday).

I was going to wear my geek-screaming HL2 shirt to work today, but I wrestled with the dog last night, and she got me (and my shirt) absolutely filthy. Dirty dog.

Nice day in the lab so far.

Oh yeah, Phischkneght readers, wiggle on over to check out the WEA blog here: This is going to be a good thing.

And now I have to go post over there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Technical Advancements

Last night I worked in the Davis Lab until 11:00pm. It was exciting because (a. the printer was dead and I kept having to apologize for peoples' inability to print, (b. Crystal brought me dinner, and (c. it's a really big deal to a lot of people when the printer dies and some of them are not nice about it.

But it was also boring, because a, b, and c are all that happened (work wise) in seven hours.

I decided to remotely log on to my home server, DENTSERVER, and try to get some real work done.

I tweaked around with the DSL modem for a while, got things set a little better than they were before. Then I turned to the new USB print server.

This was tricky. I've been meaning to give the manual a long good look, but of course the manual was at home. And I didn't remember the manufacturer and model number of the print server.

What could I do? I logged on to ZipZoomFly and looked up my order that brought the print server. I found the manufacturer and model number from there.

I got to D-Link's web page and didn't really find out anything I didn't already know. I knew that the print server wants to be from the start, which is what I suspected was the root problem.

The modem documentation claims that the modem will automatically detect if it's on a DHCP-served network and reset its own IP address to the DHCP's subnet if necessary. The DSL modem was already serving out addresses in the 192.168.0.x subnet, so with ten clients or so, was already in use.

So my first troubleshooting attempt involved setting the modem's subnet to 192.168.1.x and renewing all the leases on the network clients. Well, the print server didn't want to play.

And that's where I was when I started last night.

Knowing that the print server lied about paying attention to the DHCP server's subnet, I tried setting the DSL modem's subnet back to 192.168.0.x and then waited for clients to auto-renew and come back online.

My hope was that because the print server wasn't currently talking to a DHCP server, it would be constantly pinging the network for a DHCP server that was on the subnet it was looking for. If the print server was actively pinging for a print server, then it could get the IP address it wanted from the modem right away, because all the other network clients weren't yet aware that the subnet had changed, and would have to wait until their IP leases expired to re-ping the DHCP server and find out that they'd been out of touch all this time.

Unfortunately, when I changed the subnet, my connection to DENTSERVER was immediately terminated. If I'd been sitting in front of the machine, I could have manually requested a new IP address from the DHCP, but of course I wasn't.

So, just like all the other clients on the network, I just had to wait until DENTSERVER's lease ran out and requested a lease renewal--which would of course be turned down by the DHCP server--that IP was no longer valid, so DENTSERVER would get a new IP address. Or three of them, actually, because DENTSERVER runs a trio of NICs.

Are we confused yet?

DENTSERVER's lease didn't expire for 2.5 hours. That's when I was finally able to log back on to it.

I pulled up a remote FireFox window and typed into the address bar. Sure enough, there was the print server. It had grabbed the ".10" address before any of the other clients were even close.

The funny thing is, once the print server has the IP address it wants, you can go into its web management utility and set it to something else. But only after it has the address it wants. So is now an empty address on my network.

I gave DENTPRINTER 01 on DENTNET PRINTSERVER on DENTNET the only address that made sense to me... It works!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Quick Update

I'm alive, I just don't feel like writing lately. Sorry.

Leon's post about sushi is spot on, though. The Cobra was not my favorite but edible, the Vegas went to eleven, and the BSCR was very good indeed.

I. Am. Tired.

The lab printer has crashed, and all sorts of people hate me. Not much I can do about that, other than not take all the death threats personally.

I bought an HL2 compatible vid card last night, but if you want to know the specifics, you'll have to talk to me in person. Let's just say it's a pretty substantial upgrade in more than one way. Now I'll have to figure out what to do with my Radeon 9000 Pro (128MB DDR).

I'll bet ATI is having a banner year.

Jeesh, I wish I were in bed...and I have so much to do, including sitting at this desk until 11:00 pm. Then I get to fix Julianne's PC and then...well, we'll see.

Well that's it.

Oh yeah, saw "The Incredibles" this was quite good. That was the same day Leon bought me sushi. Good day.

***Heavy edit alert***

I'm going to be having some members of WEA (that's Weber Entrepreneurs Association) swing by to see how a blog works...and had second thoughts about a little bit of that last post.

You can ask me what got deleted if you're so inclined. In the meantime...Hi WEA people! Welcome! Feel free to poke around and see what's here.


And now for something good.

It’s no secret that Jake and I like sushi. In fact I love it. There is not much I enjoy more than going out with a friend and eating good food. This past Saturday Jake and I went to the Happy Sumo and had our standard of five rolls. Though the service this round was not great the sushi was one of the best rounds I have ever had. So I will give you a list of what we had and a personal ranking on each roll, 1 to 10, and 10 being the best.
  • Vegas Roll – In my personal opinion these set the bar against witch I judge the rest. And this round they were top notch. We ordered two of these they are a good way to make sure you get something you like when trying something new.10
  • Cobra Roll – This was one a new one we tried this round out. While it looks a little like a snake because of the salmon skin the skin also added a flavor and texture I really did not care for. The roll also has a sweet flavor to it that I really did enjoy. 5
  • Playboy Roll – I have had this one before so if I came back to it I must like it. This one reminds me of the samurai (witch is also great FYI) in that it has the salmon sashimi on top but also includes flying fish eggs. I prefer to dip this one in soy sauce because it helps bring out the flavor. A very good choice. 9
  • BSCR Roll – Finally this was the surprise of the night. I am usually cautious of food that is presented as an acronym. This one proved its self an exception. BSCR stand for Baked Scallop California Roll and this one was delicious. The scallop was seasoned breaded and sautéed in butter and had a delicate texture it was placed over the California roll with each piece on its side. The only draw back is that it is difficult to cut the scallop with chopsticks witch makes eating it a challenge. 8

Over all I was a great meal that kept me full almost the rest of the day.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


What can I say? I was wrong.

I thought that John Kerry should be our next president. But our next president should be whomever the most people vote for. And that wasn't Kerry. So I was wrong. I'll live with it.

There's been much talk of unhappy Democrats moving to Canada. But what's the point of that? Canada is cold, and I already got my lifetime dose of extreme coldness in Wisconsin.

Also, you can't take your guns. I like my guns. I have a few, and moving isn't a good enough reason to be rid of them.

Mexico, overall, seems to be a better choice. And it's a cheaper place to live. But I'll stay here. I was wrong.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Voting and Fragging (but not in that order)

Two things:

First, the LAN party was great. It was the most evenly matched that I've ever seen, with everyone playing well all evening. We'll definitely have to do it again. I just hope that I'm not as busy that weekend as I was last weekend.

I'm in Hampton, Virginia where I've been watching election coverage for about 8 hours now. I have been fanatical, and I'm very relieved to see Bush taking Florida and (most likely) Ohio. It's been thrilling. Ohio's snail-paced count, always holding Bush ahead by about 100,000 votes (the lead is 103,942 votes as CNN calls it "too close to call"), Bush's slow rise to the top of Florida, razor-thin races in New Hampshire, Nevada, and Iowa, and color commentary by James Carville and Tucker Carlson have all made it a fantastic evening.

Right now, it looks like Bush has taken Ohio and therefore the election (New Mexico and Iowa won't hurt to have either, especially since both are former Gore states). The final tally, prior to provisional and military ballots, will probably be about exactly 100,000. There are anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000 provisional ballots, which aren't likely to close that gap, even if most of them turn out to be legitimate ballots (which is unlikely). The military votes will only help boost Bush's lead, so of course, CNN is completely ignoring them.

Actually, CNN has been pretty fair throughout the evening, even if they have not for a moment forgotten that they want Kerry to win. As things got bleaker and even Carville had to admit that the numbers weren't good for Kerry, CNN kept looking with greater desperation for a way for Kerry to win. The provisional ballots, for example, are a "safety net". In fact, I just heard the word "recount" thrown out. I hope it doesn't come to that.

Anyway, Bush has a 3 million vote lead in the popular vote, and he's been a good sport about it. The democrats, on the other hand, have a plane full of lawyers headed to Ohio to try to wrangle something for Kerry. If this gets ugly, then for the second time in a row, it will not be the fault of Bush and his supporters. I think that we could use a good Nixon, but chances are that Kerry thinks that he should be Kennedy and Bush should be the graceful Nixon. If he forces the issue, then it's the voters that will lose.

My Prediction/Wish

You know what I want to see?

I want Bush to win the popular vote, and Kerry to win the electoral. Heh.

I didn't vote for Gore, but after all the malfeasance we've seen from the Bushies, I'd love to see him go out the way he came in.


You know what they say, 'Vote early, and vote often!'

So I skipped my first class and voted instead. And who knows? Maybe my votes will help unseat an incumbent or two.

Oh yeah, we had the kind of ballots with the infamous chads. But I didn't leave any hanging, or even pregnant.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Report of the Second Annual Wilcox Halloween LAN Party

Or WHaLaP II. Up for vote: Should next year's be called WHaLaP III, or WHaLaP IIV?


Stan (Last minute...Sorry, Stan, and thanks for coming!)

First order of business:

I will never again have Baja Fresh cater a LAN party. The food was 1.5 hours late, and the girl had to call for directions TWICE, even though I had left detailed directions at the store the day before.

I'm not even sure that I'll go back there for lunch. Oh, wait, I've got points on my card. I'll spend those and then I may not go back.


The movie. I'm sorry, guys, I really thought that more of you would enjoy This Is Spinal Tap more than you did. Maybe you were just too hungry. Next year, the movie will be planned in advance and hopefully more people will laugh.

Those were the two major drawbacks of the evening. As you'll no doubt notice, neither of them has anything to do with LAN battle. And the battle went well.

The matches were relatively even, there was much carnage, and we used a frag limit this time that seemed to have the effect of keeping the game a little more fresh.

Krys is a Counter Strike junkie, and wasn't used to dealing with the sort of alliances that are formed at WHaLaP. He made his concerns known, and was summarily dismissed. He was probably just hungry.

Yes, Leon and I teamed up when convenient. And yes, we did pretty well. We didn't totally r00l, though except in SubTrasit, which is my map. When in SubTransit, bow down, because you're in for a severe ass kicking. Verily, it was so.

So. That's about it. We did set up computers in the great room, but Krys moved downstairs until more people showed up, because he didn't want to be all alone in there.

My Dad decided not to play. He had worked all day, and was tired, and HL is new to him. Maybe Jeff and I can play with him some later and get him more comfortable in the game.

Sorry again for the food, guys. I know it wasn't worth it. But now we know, and next year, we'll try something different.

Hmm, speaking of next year...looks like we need to plan on Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Halloween is a Monday next year, so I'll have to take the kids out that Saturday night. So it's Friday.

On second thought, I don’t know. Will the trick-or-treating take place on a Monday?

Also, I'm thinking of a change of venue. Leon's basement may be the best place to do this thing, and he plans on building up his network infrastructure in the short term. Let's talk, Leon.

One last thing before I post...I'm at peace with Acronis now.

I finally asked if they were going to offer me a refund or not, and they offered to replace the software that I bought for any of their other titles (Except TrueImage 8.0 Server).

I replied in email that I'd like TrueImage 8.0, but since it won't run on my server, and they weren't offering me the Server version, I'd take a copy of Acronis Power Utilities.

So they sent me a key and a link for TrueImage 8.0. I replied again, pointing out that TrueImage wasn't what I asked for, and then they sent me a key and link for Power Utilities.

My conclusion is this: Typical. Yeah, their customer support was only so-so, but Norton probably wouldn't have been any better. Norton just wouldn't have crashed my server in the first place. Maybe.

So it's all good.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Blood, guts, and mexican food

Well, Friday (that's day before yesterday) was the much anticipated LAN party. While not my best performance as far as HL, I'd say that the party as a whole went reasonably well. We started out slow with just me, Jake, Leon, and our new, "special friend," Krys, who was surprisingly deadly. Eric and Stan joined us later in the evening. Sadly, dad did not join us.

As I mentioned before, this wasn't my best night. This is not to say I didn't kick some butt, however it did take a while for me to finally get my game on. The first two or three rounds were very frustrating, Jake taking the lead and holding on to it like Gollum holds on to his precious. By the time everyone was there (between 5:00-6:00), I was making my comeback. This was probably the most evenly matched party we've had here.

The food was good, but the way I understand it, a bit expensive. I think that next time we should go Chinese. Mexican doesn't always agree with me, and you don't run into many people who don't like Chinese. At any rate, it was nice to leave off of the pizza for once.

May your Glouon gun always become mine,
Jeff Wilcox

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Computer Weekend

I have a lot of computer-related stuff going on.

Tomorrow is the LAN party. It's been far too long since I've seen Jake and the guys (except for the Krys guy, who I haven't met yet) in too long. I also haven't played Half-Life in a while, so I may be a bit rusty. I hope everyone else is rusty too, but I'm not holding out any hope for that.

On Monday, the IT guy came over and traded computers with me. The old one had a bad memory slot, and I wanted more than the 256 MB that can fit in the working slot, so he's sending it in to IBM to fix. He was good enough to swap out the hard drive so that the switch would be (presumably) transparent, except that I'd have 512 MB including the chip that was in the dead slot on the old machine.

This was well and good, until the machine started crashing (which was right away). It would sometimes freeze and sometimes go blue screen on me. After a week of intermittent troubleshooting by me and the IT guy, I think I've narrowed the problem down to a bad stick of memory. The second stick in my old machine seems to have picked up some bad karma from the slot it was in. So, now I'm almost back to normal with the machine, and the old one will be back in a week or two. I'll be gone next week, so it's all good, I say.

The third thing going on is that my brother is building a computer. He finally bought the last few parts last Saturday, and they arrived this afternoon. He was going to come over last night for the build, but the five day 2-day shipping put a stop to that. The only time we have between today and Monday morning when I am leaving for Virginia for a week is Saturday morning, so we'll try to get it done in the ungodly hours of the weekend. I'm excited though. I haven't built a machine from scratch in a long time, and so I've been prepping as well as I can for it.

By the way, sorry for not getting you involved Jake, but you've been busy too lately, and we've had a hard enough time scheduling this with just the two of us (who have also been busy lately).

I've also been backing up data on my hard drive getting it ready for a nuke and load. I've been increasingly disappointed with its performance as of late, and so I'm starting over. If it all goes well and I get happy with everything, then maybe I'll try switching my server over to Apache. Its web server has been unreliable as of late.

With my brother's build, I will have had two brothers get new machines since the start of the school year. We're all getting together over Thanksgiving for some multiplayer action, although it will probably be real-time strategy-centered, rather than frag-based.

Now Is Previous To What's Going To Happen

In case you needed clarification.

Tomorrow is the LAN party.

As anyone up to date on this blog knows already, my server crashed hard last week, and I've been feverishly working to get it back into tip top shape since.

The problem is that I don't have near as much time to repair and prepare the server as it takes, so I've been dedicating time in chunks just large enough to get one task done.

Last night I spent a couple of hours in bed with my Tablet PC remotely accessing DENTSERVER and trying to put permissions back the way they belong.

An interesting footnote-the file permissions remained on some of the folders through this crash, and there were interesting consequences. My music drive, for instance, was full of data, but when I tried to click into the folder, I was told that the operating system was protecting the files inside and I couldn't view them.

Turns out that the previously existing security permissions for those folders were blocking everyone and everything from even looking at the files...including the OS. Once I killed all permissions outright, though, the data suddenly existed again.

I'm still waiting for Acronis to respond to my last post and email. They didn't overnight, and I'm getting the sense that they've written me off as a crazy-person-to-be-ignored. I don't take being ignored well, though, and if they don't remedy my complaint otherwise, I am going to file a dispute with Chase Bank, the issuer of my credit card. Yeah, it's only about $50, but a man's got to take a stand. And that's a pretty big problem that they're trying to tell me isn't a problem.

So the guest list is looking something like this:

Me (Jake)
Krys (I go to school with him)
My dad (Mark, and still maybe)

Is that really all? It doesn't seem right.

Anyway, I've pretty much decided on Mexican food for this party. I'm going to go to Baja Fresh today and order a party pack for tomorrow.

I also need to talk to my dad about possibly running a cable to the great room in the middle of the house and putting a router in there so that we can play from couches. There may be concerns about the equipment damaging the furniture, though. There's no telling what will come.

Oh, the game of the day will be Half-Life. For sure. Enough of us seem to be fond enough of the regular old multi-player slash and dash style setup that I really don't see a reason to change.

And Half-Life updates will be available on-site from the server.

We were all sick of Half-Life for a while there, but we've all had a break now, and I think we're ready for another sickening round of gore.

Halloween-y movies are definitely an option if the group (or a splinter group) wants to.

Also, there will be time for eating set aside this time. I want to eat with everyone and get face time. It's nice to socialize a little between the simulated bloodbaths.

So here's my task list:

1. Get Leon over to test server settings and close gaps.
2. Order food. We may have to send someone for it tomorrow.
3. Tell everyone to bring $7 to cover food and such.
4. Clean my living area.
5. Try to get clearance for network and computer stuff in great room.
6. Set up play areas, either in great room or downstairs.
7. Get soda. Anyone willing to bring some? Please? Dr. Pepper (in 12-packs) is popular.
8. Do a HL test run on my PC.
9. Double-check that the area of the server with HL updates will be open.
10. Make sure everyone knows how to get to my house. For my address, see below.
11. Maybe I'd better get some chips.
12. Dig out some holiday-appropriate movies to have ready should the need strike.
13. Arrange pickup of food. I may have to offer Julianne free dinner.

There is almost certainly more that I'm forgetting.

The party will be at the following address: 2770 N. 1775 E. Layton.

And here are about 3,000 other people offering their home addresses to the world.

My digits: 940-1506. If you don't know the area code, you probably shouldn't call.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Spirited (Non-Political) Debate

Ok, this is a good sign.
Ivan, a support rep with Acronis, emailed me early this morning (about 4:30 am my time), and also posted an anonymous comment to my post titled "Splinter Of My Discontent." The comment is actually a tad more detailed than the email I received, probably because he had some time to edit it in the half hour or so gap between the sending of the email and the posting of the comment.
I sincerely appreciate Ivan's (and by extension Acronis's) courage in replying to me in a public forum. I don't want his comment to be lost should we change the layout of Phischkneght again, so I'll copy it here:

This problem is related to the functionality of Windows that can't boot if the letter of system partition is changed. Acronis Disk Director Sute did its work perfect. It did change the letters of the partition and then Windows 2003 Server wasn't able to boot properly. I would like to emphasize that this problem is not related to Acronis software, but rather to the way how Windows OS operates and to the limitations of assigning the letter to the system partition.

Acronis Support Team.
Thanks again for the quick reply, Ivan and Acronis. Unfortunately, your defense is really feeble.
First, Disk Director did not work perfectly. If it had, my server would still allow me to log on (and stay logged on). Who on earth would consider this perfect functionality?
Second, blaming the problem on Windows just isn't enough. The reason I buy third-party software is to add functionality to Windows, not to have its shortcomings amplified.
Suppose I had bought a software firewall from you, run it on my system and got infected by a worm through a port that was supposed to be closed by your firewall. Would you tell me that it's the fault of Windows for having so many ports?
You obviously knew about the problem already, because you replied so quickly. In my mind, it's not good that you know about this problem, but you haven't done anything about it.
Here's what I think you should have done already:
1. Make Disk Director smarter than the user. If I'm performing an operation that will kill Windows, have the program forbid the operation and stop me from doing any real damage.
2. Make Disk Director smarter than me but still respectful of my intelligence. Pop up a warning saying something to the effect of "ARE YOU SURE?? THIS OPERATION WILL BREAK WINDOWS!! Proceed with operation? OK/Cancel." See how easy that is?
3. Simply fix your software so that it knows what to do when changing a bootable Windows drive letter. It's obviously possible, you just need to change all the settings in all the right places. Partition Magic does this sort of thing really well.
So up to this point, I've been grading you on a test you've already failed. Here's how you can patch things up with me:
1. Promise to implement one of the above recommendations and make a peace offering. A free software license for True Image, for example, would be nice, and it wouldn't cost you anything.
2. Offer me a full refund and respectfully observe that we disagree on how software should be produced.
That's about it. If you make me go to my credit card company with a broken product dispute, I won't be happy with your service, and you won't be happy that I made you look bad by disputing a charge. If you take good care of me and admit that there's a problem in the software, you might get me back on board liking your company again, and you'll look good in this public forum.
The choice is yours.
Jake Wilcox.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Splinter Of My Discontent

(Order and credit card details withheld in post.)

Folks at Acronis-

I bought DiskDirector Suite for my in-house media server running Windows Server 2003. Your website claims that DiskDirector is compatible with 2003, and my license for Partition Magic won't run on Server 2003...they want me to buy a Server Magic license.

I installed DiskDirector on my server with a fully stable configuration, and changed the c: drive's drive letter to d: and vice-versa. Essentially, I switched the drive letters of c: and d:.

The program rebooted the system twice, and then I was given the "Press Ctl-Alt-Del to log on screen. I logged on, and just as the server was logging me on, it logged me back off in the same operation. This happened on both my user accounts and on all administrator accounts, and it also happened when the server was remotely accessed. It allows log on, and then immediately logs the user back off, so the user never even sees a desktop.

This is unacceptable. I'll have to do a fresh install of Windows Server 2003 and re-configure all shares and user accounts. More details of the trouble I've gone to with this problem can be found at my blog, here:

Please process a refund for my purchase of DiskDirector. If you do not reply and process the refund in a timely manner, I'll simply dispute the charge (received product broken) for DiskDirector with my credit card company.

Jake Wilcox.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I Am **So** Sore

Ya see, I spent the weekend squirting (in a bad way) and vomiting.

My wife has astutely observed that I don't barf casually...I hurl with religious fervor. Over and over, until I'm too exhausted to even leave the bathroom. And this is why I can never be bulimic. I would simply spew myself to death far more quickly than most of the other bulimics, leading to me being viciously mocked and not around to defend my over-barfing self.

And nobody likes that.

Today I'm well but sore, especially in the shoulders and gut area.

Stupid, stupid me, I couldn't leave well enough alone, and I crashed my server this weekend, right before the already mentioned sick-fest.

Acronis Disk Director, which claims to be compatible with WinServ 2k3, utterly failed at switching the drive letters of C: and D:, or rather, it succeeded in switching the letters, but failed in making them usable. After the change, the server booted and allowed me to log on, but then immediately logged me off. I never even got to see a desktop. Yes, even in safe mode. Yes, even with the administrator account (which No, I don't use all the time).

I had to do a repair install of WinServ 2k3, which left my server in a sort of zombified state. It boots and allows me to log on. It also remembers shared folders and permissions. Everything else is broken. Firefox, AVG, Disk Director (big loss, that one)...all broken.

Leon and I did some research on the problem today. It looks like the current plan is to do a fresh install of the OS and start all over. For the third damned time.

And this is what I look like when I'm frustrated.

Oh, and Acronis? Be watching for my request for a refund. This sort of thing shouldn't happen.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Life the good and the bad.

Well I started another post about two weeks ago but never posted it. Why? Because I felt like I was bragging the whole time in trying to introduce myself. If you really want to know what I am like your just going to have to come to the LAN party and find out.

Well other than that the last few days have been a nightmare. At work I am the first one in the door in the morning so when I get sick there is no one to call into and if I don’t show up it can set back half the store for five to six hours. So Friday I went to work feeling like the living dead and in no mood to be there. Ill spare you the details of how sick and how often because I think you just would not care. Needless to say I am still sick on this beautiful Saturday, but on the bright side I have plenty of time to create a post.

Now for school for the last few weeks I have been hearing that the number of people attending collage has dropped. Personally I am not surprised also during those last few weeks I have been trying to get an appointment to get myself registered for school but every time I call all I get is “they are not in right now” or “they are out recruiting”. To them I say you are not going to get my money until I have classes to pay for. And until you put effort into getting people signed up you are not going to get their money either.

Maybe I should stop complaining or no one will read my posts.

My new tablet, I love it I took it to church to take notes on (I am a secretary) and it made life much nicer. No rustling of paper no rummaging through notebooks no extra scripture bag just one small computer and me, very nice.

I was seriously considering taking my tablet to the LAN party to play on but now I think I wont because in playing my games I has a bad habit of dropping frames when I am moving quick and that is just not expectable in a multi-player situation. I love using it for single player stuff while relaxing on my bed. That is how I keep my stress level low. I may bring it for a just in case but ill be kicking trash on my big system.

As to food have we committed to what we are going to be eating for dinner? Mexican or Chinese? I really would not mind taking an hour off to enjoy the food. Please no pizza, I think that my stomach dislikes it even though my mouth still dose.

The next adventure I hope will be setting up wireless in the house, if all goes according to plan.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Well, I know I've kinda been silent Bob on this blog lately, but let's face it. My life hasn't exactly taken an exciting turn lately and there's probably nothing about school that I could mention here that hasn't either been mentioned or you all don't know.

Ok, lets get this straight. I never thought the server was down. In fact, I knew it was up because I still had net access. The big problem was that Windows Explorer was telling me that I didn't have permission to see the entire network. other than that, Jake has his facts straight.

Oh, quick update on the Linux box. It's up and running, though I haven't used it much of late. One of the biggest problems with switching from one OS to another is that no matter what you learn to do on the new system, you can usually do it infinitely faster and more efficiently on the old one. For example, I am big into gaming. I like to think I have a reasonable collection of games on my computer. However, although I could probably find game programs for Linux that I have on XP, if I want to play the game now, I don't want to spend an hour finding the program, learning how to install it, and figuring out how to make my freakin controller work in Linux.

I found a while back that Jake has had a similar problem with Firefox, which I then offered my services to help. He couldn't install Firefox, and I had spent about twenty minutes fishing around in read me-s and help docs, only to find that I needed to execute a simple shell command. Anyway, Jake was too busy to see about it just then, and if he still wants my help I'm waiting for him to say so.

Yet another quick aside, although I do have my moments sometimes, I still consider myself a novice compared to Jake. He works on and studies computers about five million times more than me.

Only a week till LAN party time. This time, maybe Jake won't be the only one with a color commentary....

Various ThisNThats

Things are patched up with my mom and dad now, regarding the network.

I helped my dad recover his stock market program and then I helped my mom turn off the welcome screen after every screen saver. She only wants to log in once.

That same night, Jeff told me that the server may be down, because he couldn’t see it at all. I went over the common troubleshooting tips with him, and he had me convinced enough to Remote Desktop to the server from my PC, just to make sure everything was ok.

Everything was indeed ok, Jeff just forgot that a backslash looks like this (\) and not this (/). So when I kept telling him to type \\dentserver, he kept typing //dentserver, and there’s a big difference. Once we cleared that up, the server suddenly existed again.

Then it was Julianne’s turn. Her new computer’s video card didn’t like the combination of a really old monitor and Windows XP. So now she’s running a POS PCI vid card from 1994 or so at (full!) VGA until she buys herself a new monitor. She hates it, because VGA, as we all know, is crap. Maybe we didn’t know that back in 1994, but that’s not the point.

My across-the-street neighbor asked me if I’d take a look at his PC last week. He said he didn’t know what the problem was, but he suspected that the motherboard was bad.

I went over for a gander, and sure enough, I saw my second case of exploding capacitors in a month or so. They hadn’t blown as spectacularly as Sandy’s had, but it was clear from the bulged cans and oozing electrolyte that the motherboard was definitely sick.

It was tricky, though, because he had really specific motherboard requirements. It had to be Mini-ATX, support DDR 400, have both USB 2 and Firewire, and have AGP 8x. That shouldn’t be such a tall order to fill, but it took thirty minutes or so of searching before I found an Asus model that fit the bill just right. Oh yeah, except for the firewire. But we found a PCI card for that.

Wonder of wonders, when the board finally did come, it had almost the same chipset on it as the original board had. But better capacitors. I guess SIS is the only chipset manufacturer currently running that particular feature set.

When I pulled the heatsink off of the board, it brought the processor right along with it. The chip was so well stuck to the heatsink that I had to use my knife in a gentle prying motion to get it to violently pop off of and then fly away from the heatsink. What really worried me was that the processor chip flexed as it came free. And it didn’t just flex a little. It looked bad.

But I had prepared my neighbor with the information that the bad capacitors might also have ruined the chip, and so even if it ended up bad, he’d be ok.

The board I ordered came and I had to cut the Pentium 4 processor frame off of it and re-attach the original one because of a special heatsink configuration. I used a goodly amount of thermal grease on the chip, finished putting the machine back together and tried booting.

Success! The processor was fine. I still can’t believe it.

My neighbor is from Germany, and so he wanted his copy of Windows to be localized to German. On my first couple of tries, I could only get the computer to speak German about half of the time.

That sucked, so I went back to his house and borrowed his German factory XP install CD. It’s a good thing I know the Windows setup process so well, because I don’t know German, and it was all gobbledygook to me. I managed to mash the right buttons at the right times, and now he’s a happy camper.

And that brings us just about current. I’m going to try to make whatever preparations possible for next week’s LAN party this weekend, and of course I’ll need to do some resting also.

Hmmm, Leon, how about we finish that Mario 3 game?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Tool Rant

First of all, I have a minor gripe about my new Leatherman multi-tool.

But before I begin my gripe, I'll say this: Niiiiice! Seriously, the Leatherman design team must be raking in some serious whuffie over this one. Here is a list of my favorite NEW features:

1. The cutting hook. Oh yeah. Doubles as a great letter opener.
2. The belt clip. (Repeat) THE FRIGGIN' BELT CLIP. Excellent call.
3. The new lock release buttons--a serious step up from the crappy locks on the Pulse.
4. Interchangeable bits! And it even comes with Torx.

I love this knife. There are other new features that I like, and I just wanted to highlight my favorites above.

Now the bad. It all boils down to trusting your customers, Leatherman. You know?

The belt clip is an excellent idea. Overdue, but excellent. The lanyard ring is also very good. Why must I choose between them?

The knife has a locking area on each side into which an accessory like the lanyard ring or the belt clip could fit...if Leatherman didn't plug one of them up.

There's a blank...a chunk of metal in one of the locking areas, that prohibits using the second one. So, you must choose. Belt clip or lanyard ring. Not both.

I wasn't having that. I got out my Leatherman Wave (the older premium Leatherman tool) and tore that little metal part out. My new Leatherman XTI now sports both the belt clip and the lanyard ring.

Leatherman, I'm the customer. If I want them both there, I'm going to put them both there. Trying to prevent me from doing so is just stupid.

But nice tool. You tools.